Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister, struggled to understand much of the science during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Patrick Vallance, his chief scientific advisor. In testimony to the country’s public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, Vallance said he and others faced repeated problems getting Johnson to understand the science. “I think I’m right in saying that the prime minister gave up science at 15,” he said. “I think he’d be the first to admit it wasn’t his forte and that he struggled with the concepts and we did need to repeat them — often.”
Vallance said Johnson’s struggles were not unique and many leaders around Europe had problems understanding the scientific evidence and advice, especially in the first stages of the pandemic in early 2020. “So I do not think that there was necessarily a unique inability to grasp some of these concepts with the prime minister at the time, but it was hard work sometimes to try and make sure that he had understood what a particular graph or piece of data was saying,” he said.
Johnson has been accused of attending several parties at his Downing Street residence during lockdown periods, including one on June 19th 2020 which is believed to have broken lockdown rules. The U.K has one of the highest COVID-19 death tolls in Europe, with more than 232,000 people recorded as deaths caused by COVID-19.
The UK government announced an independent public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic following heavy pressure from bereaved families who have hit out at evidence emerging about Johnson’s actions during his tenure as Prime Minister. The probe is led by retired Judge Heather Hallett and is expected to take three years to complete.